FAS ● Dec 23, 2022
FAS Acting President’s Christmas 2022 Message
To all in the Singapore football family,
On Christmas Day last year, we witnessed one of the most thrilling football matches ever at the National Stadium when our Lions faced Indonesia in a gripping second semi-final leg of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship 2020. A full year has since passed and in a feeling of déjà vu, the FAS is once again caught up in the preparations for our Lions’ matches at home and away for the upcoming AFF Mitsubishi Electric (ME) Cup 2022! Although we are still in the midst of a busy football calendar in 2022, it is nevertheless good to reflect on what has been an eventful year.
The passing of our former president, Lim Kia Tong in September 2022 clearly stands out as a truly sad event for the FAS. Kia Tong was a well-loved, highly respected, and committed servant of football, one who handled everything that came his way with grace and poise. He was respected well beyond Singapore shores, and I am reminded of this every time I meet our foreign counterparts. He played key roles in the AFF, AFC and FIFA. He leaves big shoes, we cherish his memory, and will do well to remember him by building on his legacy.
A full calendar of domestic football resumed this year. The 2022 AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) season was one of the best ever with the race going down to the final weeks. Congratulations go to Albirex Niigata FC (S), for clinching their fifth Singapore Premier League (SPL) title this year. In recognition of the good work and superb performance this season, Albirex won a clean sweep of awards at last month’s FAS Awards Night 2022, which made a physical return after two years. Kodai Tanaka won the biggest prize of it all – the AIA Player of the Year. Albirex’s breakout star Ilhan Fandi bagged three awards – AIA Young Player of the Year, SELECT Goal of the Year and was named in the SPL Team of the Year along with his teammates.
Ilhan will be moving on to test his mettle against European opposition next season, having signed for K.M.S.K. Deinze, which plays in the Challenger Pro League, the second-highest division in the Belgian football league system. On a one-and-a-half-year contract, the 20-year-old will join his new club after the AFF ME Cup 2022 campaign with Singapore. Having our best players move on to other leagues, especially in Europe, is something we should celebrate. After tallying 20 goals and five assists from 27 matches across all competitions this season, I look forward to seeing Ilhan fly the flag high for the Republic overseas.
Etching their names in their club’s history, this Hougang United FC team won their first major trophy at the 2022 Singapore Cup. In front of more than 2000 supporters, Croatian striker Kristijan Krajček became the first player to ever score a treble in an exciting Singapore Cup final.
Women’s football scaled new heights this year. The Women’s Premier League (WPL) returned in May after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic with a landmark sponsorship from Deloitte and launch of three new clubs. One of the new entrants, Lion City Sailors, was duly crowned champions for the 21st edition of the WPL and they did so with some style. The team amassed 37 goals, with 10 coming from league top-scorer Izzati Rosni. Her performance did not go unrewarded – the 23-year-old star took home the WPL’s Top Scorer and Goal of the Year prizes at this year’s FAS Awards Nights.
Our Lionesses did us very proud this year. They made their debut in the Asian Games in Hangzhou this year, clinched their first Southeast Asian (SEA) Games win against Laos since 1985, and had two players, Putri Syaliza and Danelle Tan win football scholarships with prestigious universities overseas.
On the men’s amateur football front, the Singapore Football Leagues (SFL) 1 and 2, Island Wide League and the Centre of Excellence Under-21 (COE U-21) and Under-17 Leagues also resumed full action. Five champions were crowned: Singapore Khalsa Association (SFL 1), Jungfrau Punggol FC (SFL 2), Singapore Xin Hua (IWL), Tampines Rover’s U-21 (COE U-21) and Lion City Sailors (COE U-17).
Over the last month, we all lost sleep viewing football’s greatest show on Earth – the FIFA World Cup. Qatar did a magnificent job, and few would contend that the entire tournament, and especially the final, was the best one ever. Many people contributed to the success of the tournament, but we should be exceptionally proud of our very own Muhammad Taqi Aljaafari who was one of the 129 referees selected to officiate at the recently concluded FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. He was the only Southeast Asian official selected, underlining the calibre and the reputation that Singapore officials have in the world. He has made us proud.
It leaves me to thank all of you – administrators, officials, coaches, players, volunteers and fans – for making all this possible. None of this is possible without your contribution. I also know that in many areas, we can and must do better, and this leaves us plenty to strive for together in 2023.
I wish all of you, a blessed year end, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you all be blessed with warmth and love, with lots of good food and family time, looking forward to a better footballing 2023. I expect to see many of you at Jalan Besar Stadium as we paint the town red on the 24th and 30th December, when our Lions take on Myanmar and Vietnam respectively!
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!